Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hez's New Bike

Hez's New Bike, originally uploaded by Xenoc.

Hez just brought his new bike over to show it off. Sweeeet!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Pizza, originally uploaded by Xenoc.

Sara and I made pizza from scratch last week. She did most of the work, making the dough and chopping the veggies, but I helped by grating the cheese, and helped put the toppings on. It was incredibly tasty, even with the "ground round", some ground-beef-like tofu product.

Hopefully the photo posting works this time.


Last night, Sara, Jenny and I went to the Park Cinema on Cambie for the first time to watch Pirates of the Caribbean. It was an entertaining movie, and the theatre was great.
On the way home, we had to cross through an area where they've got the entire street ripped up so they can burry some concrete pipe.
I snapped a cute photo of Sara and Jenny in a section of the pipe on the way home.
(I'm emailing this to the blogger publishing address with the photo attached, in the hopes it'll work.)

(Ok, so it didn't work. Here's the picture.)

Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep!

There's a server in the server room (behind a closed door about 10 feet from me) that's beeping. It's been beeping since yesterday morning. It's quiet, on the limit of audibility, but it's there. I can just hear it if I put my headphones on without music playing. If music is playing I can't hear it. But as soon as my headphones come off, beep beep beep beep beep. It's slowly driving me insane. I've asked that something be done about it before I go insane, but it doesn't look like that'll happen until tomorrow. If it wasn't behind a locked door, I'd be in there with a screwdriver right now, shoving a wad of gum in the speaker.


I finally got around to ditching bogofilter last night, and setting up spamassassin last night. I'm pretty happy that as of this morning, only one spam got through to my inbox, of the approximatly 30 spam emails that my account received. In addition, all 5 or 6 of my non-spam messages made it into my inbox.
The thing that prompted all this was my new Treo. I want to use it to access email, but I don't want to be wasting my data bandwidth downloading spam.
So far, so good.
I'm also trying out ChatterEmail, which seems pretty good so far. It's got a neat feature for "pseudo-push", where if the Treo recieves a text-message with a certain piece of text in it, will cause it to check for new email. I've configured my mail server to use the Telus email->SMS gateway to send this text-message whenever I receive new email. Less than a minute later, my Treo vibrates twice to inform me of this new email. Pretty freaking cool.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

New Phone Number

So Sara and I each got a Palm Treo 650 pda/phone last night, so we've got new phone numbers. My new number is still a 778 number, but the next 3 digits are 30 lower than before (take the old 3, and subtract 30), and the last 4 are 5541 lower than before (take the last 4 from before, subtract 5541, and then put a zero at the front.)
I hope that made sense. If not, drop me an email.
So far, I'm very much enjoying my Treo. It's nice to be able to keep my phone numbers in one place. I was always frustrated before because I'd have the new number on my phone, and still have old numbers on the palm, or vice-versa. Now, they're all in one place, and I can dial easily through the palm address book software and all that. Sweet. :)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

It's All Gone

So, I just decided to try to restore my palm from backups. I was phenomonally stupid a couple weekends ago, and let my palm battery get SO low that the volitile memory, storing all my years of data, went dead. Basically, my data's all gone. I just found out that my most recent backup is titled "2004-03-30". Yes, that's right, over 2 years old. It's before I even started dating Sara.
I find it hard to imagine how much I lost. The frustrating thing is, I even tried doing a backup a couple months ago, but ended up spending so much time fiddling with trying to get it to work automatically, that I never actually did a proper backup. I'm an idiot.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Cute Kitten Video

I've been trying not to get in the habit of posting videos, but I just have to. Hez sent me this link, and it's just adorable.
For those of you in Linux, or at work, it IS "suitable for work", and you don't need sound for it.

Stupid Fido

I'm rather annoyed with Fido, my current cell-phone provider. They were bought by Rogers Wireless a year ago or so.

I left Telus Mobility to sign up with Fido because I wanted a phone with bluetooth. Telus had jerked me around for 2 years, telling me they'd have phones with bluetooth "any time now", or "in 3 months". I eventually got fed up and signed up with Fido, got a (I thought) decent bluetooth phone, and was all good. Used the bluetooth with my laptop to get online, used it to sync my phonebook with my Palm, and life was good. Except that the Sony Ericson Z600 I bought is a piece of junk. The user interface looks pretty, but functions slowly. It's hard to navigate around because it's always half a second behind. It randomly locks up from time to time. Sometimes it decides to sync it's time from the network, but it asks me about it, and when it does, the backlight on the LCD comes on, while it's sitting in my pocket, and stays on until I notice, which drains the battery. If I get a call while it's waiting for me to say "ok, just do it, damnit" for it's time update, it'll lock up solid. I have to pull the battery to get it to recover. Sometimes the interface lags so far behind I'm not sure if I actually pressed the button. Waiting 5 seconds to navigate into a menu item is just rediculous. I was trying to set up my timezone properly (sometimes when it syncs the time it screws up the timezone) and it ended up locking up for 30-60 seconds at a time just trying to navigate around the menu items. Oh, and it's reception sucks.

So, thanks to all this, and the fact that my Palm has been acting flaky lately, I really want to get a Treo to replace them both. Everyone I've talked to that has one is really happy with it. Unfortunatly, of the 4 cell-phone companies here (Bell, Rogers, Telus, Fido), Fido is the ONLY one that doesn't have a Treo. Oh, and even though Rogers owns them now, I can't transfer my Fido number to a Rogers account. What a load of crap.

Grad '96

I had an awesome weekend at Sara's 10th grad reunion.

Friday morning, I carted an extra couple bags to work on the bus in the morning, with my camera, laptop, and clothes for the weekend. I was thankful that things weren't too busy (for me, at least) at work, so I was able to leave at 4:00 in order to make it to the 5:10 ferry.

I almost missed the bus though. Somehow I confused "Dunsmuir & Cambie" with "Dunsmuir & Seymour", and so ended up sprinting about 4 blocks, with my two bags, in order to catch the bus. I did catch it on time, and had a nice ride to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal.

While I was on my down the gangway, boarding the ferry, Warren approached me. As it turns out, he was catching a ride with us from the Departure Bay ferry terminal down to Brentwood with us, so I had some company on the ferry ride over. On the way, he told me a little bit about what he's been doing these days. I knew he was working on a doctorate in maths, but wasn't sure specifically what he was doing, or if I'd even understand what it was. Turns out, he's working on control theory, which, though I don't know much about, sounds absolutely fascinating. It's all about the mathematics behind automated control systems, like cruise control, autopilots, HVAC systems, industrial automation, you name it.

When we arrived in Nanaimo, Sara was ready and waiting for us. She had been watching a movie, Superman Returns, a bit later than expected, and she wasn't sure if she'd be there when we got off. As it turns out, she got there just as we were disembarking from the ferry, so the timing was excellent.

We hit the highway, heading to Brentwood, stopping on Duncan for gas, alcohol, and dinner for Sara, as Warren and I had eaten on the ferry.

We got to Brentwood at around 8:30, after registration had closed for the night, but we found our room assignments from the sheet on the wall, and were rather surprised to find it reading "Sara Quist ('96) and husband". We all had a good laugh about that, and spent the rest of the weekend denying it whenever her classmates or teachers asked.

Before we even unloaded the car, we headed over to the new auditorium building for the wine and cheese reception. This was where I met most of Sara's classmates, though more continued to trickle in over the weekend. This was also when we all started to grasp that we hadn't really needed to stop by the liquor store, as there seemed to be ample supply of beer and wine, of which we consumed our fair share.

At one point in the evening, one of Sara's teachers took us on a tour of the new building, which was absolutely gorgeous. Sara's so jealous now that it wasn't there when she was attending Brentwood.

The festivities continued well into the night, and I understand where were still people up partying at 5am. We, however, turned in around 2am (I think). Warren is another story, but I'll leave that one for someone else to tell. :)

On Saturday, another of Sara's teachers took us down to the room she and Warren had Biology class in, and we sat down there and chatted for a good hour or two. While we were there, he showed us a SmartBoard, a whiteboard that's all computerized, with a projector for display, and a touch-sensitive surface for drawing on with "pens", or just your finger. It was really quite fascinating.

All in all, the time at Brentwood was a lot of fun, but when the time came to go, it was just as well, because I was starting to go into social withdrawal, after being social with so many strangers.

We left around 11:30 on Sunday, on our way to Beacon Hill park, in Victoria. Along the way, we stopped at a street-market sort of thing, and spent a few minutes wandering around looking at the hand-made art and crafts stuff. I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a few booths of people selling photographs. I seem to usually only see paintings, and while I appreciate the work and talent that goes into them, I like seeing photographs, as I can identify with the work that goes into them a bit closer, being a photography nut myself.

After we had seen our fill, we hopped back into the car and drove to Beacon Hill park. I had a wonderful relaxing time meandering around the park with Sara, taking pictures as we went, and just enjoying the weather. At one point, we heard what sounded like music, and wandered towards it, to find a brass band warming up on the band shell. Checking the signs, we saw that there would be a free concert there in half an hour. We wandered back off for a while, and came back as the concert was about to begin. I snapped a few photos of the band as they were warming up individually, and after a moment, one of the guys wandered over towards us with carrying a trumpet or something. For a moment I was concerned that he was going to ask me not to take any photos, which would have been kind of depressing, but he handed me the band's card, and asked me to drop them a like if I got any good photos, as they're putting together a promotional press kit. That just made my day, so I made sure I did get plenty of photos, and once I've had some time to go through them, I'm going to email them and see if they'd like any of them. Maybe I can make a few bucks off it.

The band that was playing was the Beacon Hill Brass band, and they were great. They did quite a wide variety of pieces, everything from early renaissance pieces, to some more modern pieces based on some stray cats that the composer had taken in. Unfortunately, we had to leave at the intermission, as we had plans for dinner with Sara's dad. I would have liked to stay for the whole thing, it was quite fun, but I was hungry too, and I must learn to listen to the beast within. ;)

Dinner with Sara's dad was great. We surprised him with the car (which I can now blog about!) and then walked over to Maude's, the pub nearby, for some food. I had a chicken caesar salad, which was very tasty.

After dinner (or lunch, it was around 3 pm), we drove up to the airport to pick up Warren, who had found a vehicle to borrow for his afternoon visiting, which he was then dropping off at the airport for another family member who was flying in late that night. It saved someone having to drive out from Duncan to pick them up too. Funny how things just seem to work out like that sometimes.

We got to the ferry 2 cars too late to get on the 6pm ferry, which was thankfully more humourous than frustrating, because we'd only been planning to catch the 7pm anyways. While we were waiting in line, I opened the presents from Sara's mom, and was very pleasantly surprised to find a jig-saw (the tool, not a puzzle) and some blades. I guess this means I'll have to follow up on making some chairs for our SCA camping. At the last event, Christine's brother had some really neat and very simple chairs that he had made. I'll have to email him and get the instructions for them now, but I seem to recall that you just need some 2x12's or something, cut into roughly 5' lengths, with a few chunks cut out of them in particular ways that should be almost trivial to do with a jig-saw. I have to say, I've always thought jig-saws were really cool anyways, because of the type of cuts you can do with them.

On the way back on the ferry, the captain made an announcement that there was some entertainment in the water ahead, a bunch (school?) of killer whales. We just happened to be at the front of the boat, so I went up to the windows (along with half the passengers, I bet the stern was half out of the water) and could see them just barely, in the distance. They were too far to make out well, so I went back to my seat a little bit disappointed. Not a minute later, we found out they were alongside the boat, on the same side as us. I was at the window immediately, and got to see them leaping and blowing alongside the boat as we passed them, for at least a minute or so. It was an amazing site, and I called Sara over to see, but she came only reluctantly. I wasn't until after that I asked her, and realized that this was nothing new to her. Growing up on the islands, and taking ferries so often, she'd seen them many times before, sometimes even from her house on Galiano island. Oh well, I enjoyed it. :)

After getting back on dry land, and dropping Warren off at home, we followed tradition, and went to the Eatery for dinner. It was delicious, as usual, and we went home satiated.

Friday, July 07, 2006

More Computer Stupidities

I just ran across this on the Computer Stupidities website, and it made me think of Sara's time at UBC music school. That's not to say that Sara's "excessively terrible at singing", quite the contrary, she sings beautifully, and I'm quite thankful for that, given this story:
I was an IBM tech at the time. A customer called in with a complex problem. During the course of the call I could hear, in the background, a screeching wail. I tried to ignore it, but it was distracting, and later I began to get worried about what sort of thing was going on there. About five minutes into the call I considered putting the customer on hold and calling the police when the customer asked if I was wondering what the noise in the background was. She said, "I work in an opera school, and that particular student is excessively terrible at singing." I had to put the customer on hold until I stopped laughing.

Washing your Keyboard

Before I get into this, I just want to say that this isn't a procedure I would recommend anyone try, especially on a modern keyboard.
Back in university, around the same time as the last post (sometime in 1999 I imagine), I had an old IBM Model-M keyboard. One of the ones with buckling spring keyswitches.
I used to love that keyboard. Who needs ICQ sound effects when your keyboard goes KLACK KLACK KLACK all on it's own. That thing was heavy, but boy was it solid.
So, one night, the eventually-inevitable happened, and I spilled a can of Coke on my keyboard. Not wanting to have to replace it with a quieter, but flimsier, modern keyboard, I proceeded to "fix" it. I took it all apart, removed the small circuit board with the ICs on it, and put the rest of it in the bathtub. Yes, in the bathtub. With water. I swirled it around in there for a few minutes, then let it soak for an hour or two. When it was done, I took it out and let it all dry for a full 24 hours before reassembling it. It worked perfectly again. I was so happy. :)
Some time after that, I spilled on it again, and did the same thing. Unfortunately, I let it soak for too long this time, and a capacitor soaked up a bunch of water and expanded. This was just too much effort to bother trying to fix, so I bought a logitech keyboard, which I am still using to this day.

Hard Drive Woes (of the past)

Ben's comment on my last posting reminded me of a few things that happened to hard drives back in University. Oh, and one that happened to a CD burner.
Dayton had a awesomely fast and reliable Yamaha CD burner. This was back in the day when Yamaha made the only IDE CD burners that you could rely on to consistently burn anything other than coasters. At some point when we were moving stuff in and out of residence, I was carrying an armload of stuff which I'd stupidly tossed the burner on top of. As I was walking down the hallway, approaching the jig in the hall where it zigzagged left, then right, the burner slid forwards off my pile of stuff. I tried to cushion it's fall by getting my foot under it, but mistimed it such that I ended up booting the drive down the hallway, right into the wall. It still worked after that, but was never quite the same.
Dayton did something similar to my 850 MB Maxtor hard drive sometime after that too, but I don't remember the details of how it happened. I do remember something else that happened to that Maxtor though. With my new computer, with a 6.4 GB and 4.3 GB hard drive, the Maxtor had become sort of an extra. I would hook it up when I needed it, and (usually) unhook it when I was done. I didn't feel like mounting it properly in the case every time, so I usually left it sitting on the top of the case. As it happens, the way the cables went, the easiest way to place it was sitting with the circuit board side of it facing up. One day, I bumped a cup of coffee that was on the edge of my desk, and it tipped over, spilling coffee all over the circuit board of that drive, which was on my computer right beside the desk. I reached for the power switch on the back of the computer and turned it off as fast as I could. After sopping up the coffee, and dabbing at the drive with a damp cloth, I let it dry for a while. After that, it worked as well as ever for another few years.
So remember boys and girls, no, your hard drive is not thirsty.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Installing new RAM

I found a link the other day, while reading some article, to a website called Computer Stupidities.
Reading a couple of the stories there reminded me of something from university.
I don't remember all the details, but it was while I lived in residence, during my second year. Our little group had become rather well known in the student residence as being tech savy, so everyone and their dog would come knock on our door asking for computer help. At one point it got so bad, we put a sign up on the door saying "No computer help unless you look like this", with a picture of, I believe, Milla Jovovich.
While Milla Jovovich never knocked on our door, we did break the rule and help a few particularly attractive undergraduate women with their computer problems.
Anyways, the incedent I've been remembering was before the sign went up. I don't even remember how it originally started, but some guy came to us for computer help. I ended up going over to look at his computer, and eventually found out that the motherboard was fried. After enough talking to him, I finally figured out that he had installed new RAM in his computer. By himself. While it was on.

Woodwards 'W' is gone!

I can't believe it! They've taken down the big 'W' on the Woodwards building! That thing was a downtown Vancouver landmark.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Island Test

I'm really annoyed. I already posted this, but somehow it never published, so now I have to retype it all.

One of my favorite online writers, Paul Graham, has an interesting new essay up, titled "The Island Test".

I've discovered a handy test for figuring out what you're addicted to. Imagine you were going to spend the weekend at a friend's house on a little island off the coast of Maine. There are no shops on the island and you won't be able to leave while you're there. Also, you've never been to this house before, so you can't assume it will have more than any house might.

What, besides clothes and toiletries, do you make a point of packing? That's what you're addicted to.

I'm not sure if it's fair to assume that this house would have electricity, but I'll make that assumption, since my #1 item pretty much depends on it. My items would be my laptop, a stack of novels, and my camera, with some lenses and close-up filters.

I guess that paints a pretty clear picture of what I'm addicted to.

The Weekend

I had an awesome long-long-weekend. On Tuesday night, we decided not to wait for the morning, and headed up to Kelowna that night. My mom waited up for us, so we had a brief visit with her when we arrived at around 1:30am. It was a nice drive up, in the cool evening weather. The next day was scorching hot, so I'm glad we went up when we did.
The time in Kelowna was nice and relaxing, swiming in the lake and just relaxing at my parents' house reading my book. We also spent something like 2 1/2 hours at Value Village buying clothes. I got lots of great summer shirts, and a couple of pairs of cargos. I was silly and didn't get any shorts though. I also got a few nice long-sleved shirts for work, once the weather cools down this fall.
On Friday morning we left for Williams Lake. We left my parents' house down Westside road, which is very twisty and fun to drive. I was driving, however, so the Sara ended up having to take some gravol for the nasea and passed out. She was on-and-off asleep the whole way to Williams Lake, which was kind of too bad, because it meant I had to drive the whole way. Next time, she drives first shift.
The time in Williams Lake was great, even if it was a bit overwhelming for Sara to meet so many of my relatives. It was the first time we've had all my grandparents grandkids together for years, and I think it might be the first time ever that we've had all eight of us together, as the youngest is, well, pretty young. It was a lot of fun. Many games of Racko and Pictionary were played, though my sister and her friend Geoff won every single game of Pictionary they played. They were quite a team. It was great to see everyone, but in the end, I was glad to come home too.
On Saturday night in Williams Lake I got to open my birthday presents a day early. From my parents and sister I got a 320 GB hard drive. That'll go nicely in my server, so I can replace my ailing 40 GB drive in my gateway. Sara got me a set of computer surround sound speakers. I bought a set of Logitech Z-5300e 5.1 surround speakers a few months ago, with the Best Buy gift card CUCBC gave me when I left, and I've enjoyed them so much, I asked for another set for my birthday, to hook up to the old LCD-less laptop we use for watching movies and tv series. I mounted them around the bed (where we watch movies, leaning up against pillows stacked up against the headboard) the night we got home, so we could watch an episode or two of 24. Unfortunatly, the built-in soundcard in the laptop doesn't actually do surround sound, so we're stuck with simulated-from-stereo surround sound until I can get my Creative Labs Extigy USB sound card working properly in Linux.
Sara's gone for the next couple evenings, on the Island visiting her mom, so I'll have some time to tinker with stuff.